Do you experience pain in the topmost section of your knee or front of the knee cap with movements such as squatting, walking up or down stairs, running or jumping? You may be experiencing something known as Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome, or PFPS.
The name patellofemoral pain syndrome comes from the make-up of the joint. The patella (kneecap) sits in the groove of the femur and tibia. The patella is positioned in the tendon of the quadriceps tendon, which is the reason the “quadriceps” are known as the knee extensor muscle group. The quadriceps is actually a term used to describe the 4 muscles that make up the front of the thigh region. The 4 muscles come together to form the quadriceps tendon, connecting the patella all the way to insertion at the top of the tibia.
The most common signs and symptoms of PFPS include pain with deep knee flexion (deep knee bending) which is usually seen with stairs, squats, or pistol squats. Most patients will also complain of knee pain that is evident during running and jumping. Mild swelling and pain while sitting for extended periods of time is also evident in some, but not all cases of PFPS.
So what does all of this mean to you? When most people have pain just below the knee cap, many say they have “knee pain”, and yes, that is where the pain is presenting itself. However, the pain is most likely caused by a problem stemming from the quadriceps or knee cap itself. Some common causes of PFPS can include reduced tissue elasticity, poor tracking of the patella, improper patella alignment and/or over use of the quadriceps group.
To treat PFPS the most common approaches are:
● Hip mobility with focus on hip flexion range of motion
● Soft tissue work – loosening up any tissue tension in the quadriceps muscle belly
● Eccentric quadriceps strengthening
● Lateral hip strengthening for proper knee alignment during exercise
As always, if you do not know proper performance of hip mobility, strengthening or flexibility exercises it is best to consult with your physical therapist in order to ensure you are taking proper precautions and reducing pain appropriately! For more information on Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome and ways to minimize your discomfort contact us at Pure Physio today.